WISENET Journal No. 26, July 1991, p. 5.
Dr Diana Temple recently retired as Associate Professor after 28 years with the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Sydney, where she is now an Honorary Associate. Diana was respansible for starting the Sydney WISENET group in 1985, and is still the main force behind WISENET in NSW.
Diana Temple's early life was spent in the West Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie. Her family life was conventional in most ways, but she grew up imbued with a work ethic and almost unaware of the possibility that girls and women might experience discrimination in work or education. Always, long before the women's movement promoted such ideas, she has believed in feminist ideals: that women should have the opportunity to develop their own interests and career skills equally with men if they want to, and not be stereotyped into domestic pursuits.
The University of Western Australia provided memorable undergraduate years, involvement in student activities and friendships which endured. Diana moved to Sydney with a new BSc to become a teaching fellow and master's degree student in the crowded post-World War 2 chemistry school at Sydney University. The search for new experiences took her to London, where she stayed (apart from a year in the USA) for six years, working in chemical research laboratories and absorbing the benefits of life in Britain.
Back in Sydney with a husband and child, she received a grant to study for a PhD and has been at Sydney University ever since. For 15 years, until her retirement in 1990, Diana was an Associate Professor in the Pharmacology Department at Sydney University.
Her quite extensive involvement in university politics as an elected faculty representative on the Academic Board, an elected Fellow of the University Senate, and department head for four years inevitably provided a high profile as an academic woman scientist. Her work in the medical faculty involved teaching undergraduate medical students and students of science, pharmacy, veterinary science and dentistry; research associated with large numbers of postgraduate students, applications for research grants and administrative duties. Diana makes the comment that a relatively senior woman finds herself on many more committees than her male counterparts because of the perceived need to have women on such committees.
All of this makes life very interesting, she says, but of course a lot of juggling of time and priorities is necessary to fit all the obligations and commitments together. She is now an Honorary Associate and spends quite a lot of time teaching adult education courses in popular aspects of medical science.
Diana agrees with the general observation that women enjoy working with people, and also that women tend to relate their science to human interests. In her experience, women who study chemistry or physics or engineering often seem, when they have the opportunity, to give their research or career direction a biological or medical or sociological slant, as she herself was able to do.
Women's place in science and technology has been Diana's chief hobby or extracurricular activity since her hectic days of combining full-time work and responsibility for young children. She considers herself fortunate to have had the opportunity in the mid 1970s to be part of a collaborative group of women who undertook a study of women academics, the findings of which were published as a book, Why So Few (Cass et al, 1983). Since then, she has given many lectures and informal talks, published several articles on women in science and collaborated on another Australian Research Council-funded project.
It was these important interests that led Diana to take on the coordination of the WISENET group in Sydney in 1985. She believes that women scientists have much in common, and considers it to be an enjoyable privilege to be part of a network such as WISENET.